Weekly Sales Meetings Matter
Guest Faculty Post by Tim Searcy
As a salesperson, I did not always appreciate the value of a weekly sales meeting with my boss. I was always prepared; my boss rarely was. I spent most of my time answering questions whose answers were available in my report or defending my integrity against an onslaught of skepticism. Although my supervisor would imply that these meetings were to assist me, they were a “check the box function,” except when the overall numbers for the firm were down. If the sales team was behind, the questions became more insistent and more accusatory.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A decent weekly sales meeting can be painless, helpful and productive for your sales representatives. It requires a bit of a change in three things that HBS believes have the highest leverage: Mindset, Mechanics and Magic.
- This is not a team sport. I am opposed to team meetings in which every salesperson reports out on the previous week’s activities. Don’t waste time in-group meetings. Sales is golf, not football.
- It is not the manager’s meeting.This is your sales representative’s meeting, and the agenda items, updates, and outcomes are his or her responsibility.
- You BOTH need to be prepared.Manager and representative alike needs to be prepared, having reviewed the same information and with a clear idea of what you each want to get out of your time together.
- Preparation: Insist each representative provides an advanced report including all movements since last meeting. Important issues and information must be presented in the format of an agenda with a clear outcome that defines success.
- Brevity: Meetings should last no more than 30 minutes. More than 30 minutes usually devolves into storytelling and a focus on motion versus actual movement within the pipeline.
- Structure: Break the meeting into three 10-minute segments:
- Good News: review of last week’s accomplishments and movements with the targeted accounts.
- Anticipated Movement: discuss the coming week’s anticipated movements and the necessary steps that will be taken.
- Broader Updates: Discuss updates from the company in policy; deal with agenda items that either party has which do not fall into a “movement” category, and to address strategy on accounts that are large, complex or require more or different company resources.
- Strategy versus tactics:Sales leadership is much more about the strategy to win a “whale” sized piece of business than the tactical movements of accounts working their way towards a finish line. You lead by about anticipating what can happen with a large account and helping your sales representative use process, system and creative ideas to navigate.
- Training versus coaching: Weekly sales meeting are primarily a coaching function. You are not building new skills, but rather increasing your representatives’ efficiency and effectiveness.
Your goal in sales meetings is to keep the workflow moving at optimum speed with minimum friction. This steady cadence of accountability will instill confidence in your salespeople individually and demonstrate both respect for their efforts and their time. In short, weekly meetings will stop feeling like a game that no one can possibly win.